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US Senate Approves Big Tech Critic To Head DOJ Antitrust Division

 |  November 16, 2021

The US Senate voted on Tuesday to confirm Google critic Jonathan Kanter, who was backed by progressives, to head the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, reported CNBC.

In his confirmation hearing, Kanter pledged to enforce antitrust law in agriculture, pharmaceuticals and the labor market, as well as in Big Tech.

The Senate confirmed him on a vote of 68 to 29.

Kanter is the third of three people, who all have tech expertise and were backed by progressives, to be chosen for key antitrust posts. The other two were Tim Wu for the National Economic Council and Lina Khan as chair of the Federal Trade Commission.

Related: DOJ Nominee Kanter Says He Plans “Vigorous” Antitrust Enforcement During Hearing

Kanter takes the reins of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division at a time of calls for tougher enforcement and bipartisan criticism of internet platforms like Facebook, Amazon and Apple.. The companies have vigorously denied any wrongdoing.

Kanter has spent years representing rivals of Google, which the Justice Department sued last year alleging that it broke antitrust law in seeking to hobble search engine rivals. The government is preparing to file a second lawsuit focused on the company’s digital advertising business. Google has also denied wrongdoing.

The DOJ has also reportedly looked into competition concerns around Apple. Kanter has done work for Spotify, which competes with Apple Music.

Kanter told lawmakers he would consult with ethics officials at the DOJ about recusal if confirmed. Still, he would be in position to appoint deputies that could assist his antitrust approach.

Kanter has won the support of senators across the aisle who have argued that too few tech companies control an outsized amount of power. Several Republican senators voted in favor of Kanter’s confirmation, including Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, ranking members on the Judiciary Committee and its antitrust subcommittee, respectively.

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